1.12.19 Robert Jones Appears on New SiriusXM Show

Robert Jones Appears on New SiriusXM Show

At the end of 2018, PRRI CEO and founder Robert P. Jones appeared on “The Trendline with Kristen Soltis Anderson,” a new show on SiriusXM hosted by the noted ABC contributor. On the show, Jones and Anderson break down some of the most important political discussions of the day, including the fight over the proposed border wall and demographic changes among voters. Jones expounded on these subject in his 2016 book, “The End of White Christian America.” 

“The biggest changes have really been the composition of the American religious landscape,” Jones says while noting a drop-off in those who identify as white Christians over the last decade. Toward the end of the conversation, Jones and Anderson discuss how the American voting population has changed over the last several election cycles. They also focus on President Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”

“Part of his strategy is, ‘Yes we’re going to turn back the clock, we’re going to give you back the America you think you’ve lost,’” Jones explains. He continues, “In 2004, if we were talking about culture wars, we’d be talking about abortion and same-sex marriage. What has become I think the new culture war, is a fight over American identity. ‘Who are we?’ ‘Who gets to be American?’ ‘What does an American look like?’ What do they sound like?’ ‘What do they sound like?’”
These types of questions, Jones argues, have become “the bigger dividing line between the two parties.”

Check out the full interview here. 
Border Wall Stays on Everyone’s Mind

On the eve of Trump’s primetime address on proposed funding for a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico, PRRI highlighted data that shows where Americans stand on the issue of the wall. The 2018 American Values survey shows that over the last two years, Republicans and Democrats’ attitudes toward the wall have become increasingly polarized. 

When PRRI asked Americans if they supported the border wall in 2016, 66 percent of Republicans were in favor, including three in ten (30 percent) who were strongly in favor of the policy. Three-quarters (75 percent) of Democrats were opposed, including nearly half (48 percent) who were strongly opposed. By 2018, those numbers had jumped to 80 percent of Republican in favor and 45 percent who were strongly in favor. 80 percent of Democrats are opposed, 61 percent who are strongly opposed. White evangelical Protestants, Trump’s most loyal religious demographic, were nine percent more likely to support the wall in 2018 than 2016 (67 percent vs. 58 percent). 

At ABC News, Cokie Roberts used this data to theorize that support for the wall has little to do with the actual wall and more to do with Trump. Were President Trump to change his mind on the wall tomorrow, Roberts opines, his followers would fall in line. “You get the same pro-versus-anti Trump results when polling on the wall is broken down by education, age, ethnicity, and religion,” Roberts writes. “So Trump’s strongest supporters unsurprisingly also support the wall most ardently.” 
Religion’s Resilience in American Higher Education

On the heels of the publication of their recent book, The Resilience of Religion in American Higher Education, authors John Schmalzbauer and Kathleen A. Mahoney sat down for an interview with Inside Higher Ed. The book argues that a common narrative depicting hostility between religion and education is contradicted by religion’s resilience in the academy, including in both public and secular private institutions.

In the interview, the authors discuss many of the book’s findings, including the explosion of religious diversity across public universities, which is particularly noteworthy as the nation continues to undergo significant demographic change. When it comes to evangelical colleges, they point to generational fault lines among evangelicals on the issue of same-sex marriage and religious exemptions related to LGBT issues. Citing PRRI research, the authors note, “Evangelical colleges will find it increasingly difficult to maintain conservative positions on LGBT issues.

According to a 2017 survey conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute, 53 percent of young white evangelicals favor legalizing same-sex marriage. Older evangelicals feel very differently about this issue. This gap will create tensions and conflicts for evangelical colleges and could further depress enrollment.” The bottom line, according to the authors, is that evangelical institutions could put themselves in danger if they don’t reform in response to this generational divide.